Participatory pedagogies: The struggle to authentically support children’s rights in day to day experiential learning

We are aware that this important struggle will only be achieved through the efforts of democratic societies to institute civic rights for all (children and adults). In the realm of education, the struggle to make children’s rights real demands the connectiveness between children’, teachers’ and parents’ rights.

Current educational policies and practices focus and value elements (e.g. testing, standards, accreditation, evidence-based practice, and single truths) which do not directly relate to day-to-day lives in classrooms and schools. It is imperative to remind ourselves and affirm the authentic ways of being, acting, listening and reflecting within the field of Early Childhood Education.

Making “children’s rights real to an empowering pedagogy is made feasible through teachers’ entitlement to a rights approach to professional development. Participatory professional learning is inspirational for teachers’ praxis with children. We recognize pedagogic isomorphism as a complex pedagogy that connects children’ and teachers’ learning journeys.

So, we will revisit our stance on early childhood pedagogy and professional praxis acknowledging the complexity of its connectiveness, clearly shown in praxeological research of transformative processes. We will focus on early years’ education with specific emphasis on play rights. Play is central to participatory pedagogies since it encompasses active participation, voice, meaningful experiences, relations and interactions, reflection. We will use pedagogic documentation throughout the presentation to dialogue with lived experiences of children and teachers in day to day pedagogy aiming to evidence praxis as the locus of pedagogy.

JÚLIA FORMOSINHO is a Professor at the University of Minho in Braga and Catholic University of Portugal. Co-founder of Childhood Association (Associação Criança) and Director of its Research Centre.
This civic network develops and promotes a socio-cultural-constructivist approach to the education of children and teachers, intercultural understanding and advocacy of children, teachers and parents’ rights in early childhood settings.
The Childhood Association has been supported by a grant from the Aga Khan and earlier by Gulbenkian Foundations. One of the achievements of this civic network has been the development of a pedagogical approach to children and adults learning called Pedagogy-in-Participation and, in collaboration with Chris Pascal and Tony Bertram, an approach to praxeological research.

Since 1996, she has been the editor of a series for the leading educational publishing house in Portugal and African Portuguese speaking countries called Childhood Series, which had published 24 books.
Júlia was Chair of the Sixth EECERA Conference in Portugal in 1996, sits on EECERA’s Board of Trustees and Editorial Board, and coordinates the development of Special Issues of the EECERJ, now 16 issues.

Júlia has a long standing collaboration with Brazilian universities and colleagues (in São Paulo, Ceará, Porto Alegre, Bahia) resulting in the publication of four books in Brazil, chapters in several books and articles in Brazilian research journals.
Júlia has also a long-standing collaboration with Spanish universities and professional associations, namely with the University of Santiago de Compostela and has published with Spanish colleagues.


ELENI LOIZOU is an Associate Professor at the University of Cyprus (UCY) in the Department of Education. She is the director of the Early Childhood Research Lab at the UCY and the academic advisor of the UCY- based school (from infancy to kindergarten) since its foundation (2011). Eleni has been teaching at the Department of Education for 14 years and has been responsible for the revision and creation of different undergraduate and graduate courses. She has participated in different research projects with connections in Europe and the USA and has always been promoting early years quality, for children and teachers. Specifically, her research focuses on young children’s humor, socio-dramatic play, empowering young children, teachers and parents, early childhood curriculum, infant-toddler development and practice, and early childhood teacher education.

Eleni is devoted to the field of Early Childhood Education and is really interested in contributing to the association’s goals. Eleni acknowledges the importance of scientific research in the field and also recognises the need to support children, families and early years’ educators while reflecting upon world political and societal changes. Eleni’s experience in Cyprus, being the only early childhood educator in her department for the past 14 years has provided her with multiple opportunities and challenges to develop the skills to promote Early Childhood Education. Among her accomplishments have been the creation of an Early Childhood Research Lab, a high quality child care, preschool and kindergarten at the university as well as the revision of the country’s early childhood curricula.